Opportunity lost?

CLEMSON - With one day left before the game, Dabo Swinney is disappointed that neither he nor his coaches were allowed to visit Spartanburg this week to watch Shrine Bowl practice.

Since Aug. 1, 2006, Division I-A football coaches have not been allowed to attend independent camps and combines.

Post-season all-star games like the Shrine Bowl and North-South game fall under that same rule.

"When they said you can't go to combines and all that—did away with all of that, they kind of lumped the Shrine Bowl into that…that's a totally different thing," Swinney said. "That's something that's been in place for years. All these combines and all that stuff just popped up here in recent years.

"The Shrine Bowl has been there forever."

It's 73 years, actually.

Saturday's game at Wofford is the 74th annual showdown between teams of the best players in North and South Carolina.

Swinney, who helped make a name for himself because of his recruiting prowess, has a different philosophy than the NCAA when it comes to the Shrine Bowl.

Chris Hairston is one of a handful of elite prospects who have gained recruiting momentum in recent years with a strong performance in the practices leading up to the Shrine Bowl. (Roy Philpott)
"I hate that rule. It's something that I always looked forward to, going out and watching those guys," Swinney said. "A lot of guys miss out on opportunities for the [Division I schools] to see them. That's what we're dealing with right now. We just have to abide by it."

Chris Hairston, the Tigers' senior left tackle, picked up an offer from Clemson as a result of his performance during Shrine Bowl practice.

He played in the 2005 game on the North Carolina side.

Other players, specifically who developed during their senior years or who played at smaller schools, have also used the week leading up to the big game as a chance to gain additional scholarship offers.

The reasons the NCAA stepped in to prevent coaches from scouting camps and all-star practices in-person are numerous, but there were originally listed when the rule was adapted years ago:

* Preserving the quality of life for coaches

* Maintaining control of the recruiting process

* Fair competition

But for Swinney, it's still disappointing those additional in-person evaluations can't take place.

"I don't really know the logic [of the rule], to be honest," Swinney said. "I hate that."

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